Judges Comments for Assignment # 1 Alien Landscape
This is powerful, taking the reader right to that scary no-mans land between East and West. It allows us to peek into a soldiers thoughts, sometimes mundane, sometimes on edge, always cautious.
I had mixed thoughts about the ending. At first it seemed weak, because I was expecting more. I thought that the other guard might have picked up a rifle, or looked through binoculars, to add a bit more punch to the story.Then I decided that the ending worked. Most days, there was no drama, just guards assigned to be there, just in case. A dramatic ending would not have reflected the emotions felt in an average day. This one does.
What I like:
The strength of this piece is twofold: first, the alien landscape is rendered vividly and with stunning attention to detail, and second, the emotional engine of the narrative lies outside the sensory thrust of the literal events. That is, the emotional core of the piece is actually Georges desire to hear from his girlfriend, and his fear of rejection while hes on duty. But this powerful and relatable internal character conflict appears as a subtle thread, because we are instantly engaged by the sight-lines of our protagonist, by the Cyclopean eye of the searchlight, the thirty meters of ploughed earth, the dew on the barbed wire fences like pearls around a ghastly neck. Excellent writing. Excellent structure. Excellent engagement with the assignment.
What Id like to see more of:
Im very curious to see how this authors arresting descriptive writing will be applied to other settings, other worlds, other characters. Id also like to see this authors descriptive writing carry even more narrative weight in their next piece. For example, seeing the foreign soldier petting the dog was a strong enough visual that I didnt need to be told that George could relate. This is an issue of trusting ones writing, of trusting ones ability to describe a scenario without needing to explain its significance.
Questions (not necessarily to answer, but to think about):
1. What impact might the repetition of the title in the final line have on your readers experience?
2. Is this the first time George has noticed how similar he is to his opposite across the fence? Why now?
3. Are there ideas or pieces of information here that youre both showing and telling your readers?
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